Ever just want to slow down at work? Remember the days when you had space in your diary, could make a snap decision to take a long lunch, or when you regularly used that gym membership? What happened to work-life balance? When did it become so hard and where did the time go?
Our everyday world is becoming increasingly fast-paced. Technology is a crucial part of our everyday lives and it changes day-by-day. The accelerating rate of technology change is not something you can influence. You can’t prevent it, you can’t stop it, but you can choose your approach.
The speed of technology change is compounded by the pace of social change and it has a psychological impact creating a state of constant flux. ‘Techo-stress’ is the label applied to the stress of adjusting to changing and new technologies.
There is also the concept of ‘time sickness’ which comes from trying to juggle too many options with too little time. We experience events happening faster and faster. It is difficult for us to slow down.
Consider: How many times have you become impatient with your computer taking too long to boot? It’s crazy to think a extra few seconds waiting for something to happen is now the cause of impatience, frustration and stress.
When did seconds become precious? How do we find balance and, more importantly, steal our own time back?
1. Personal tempo
I try to find my ‘personal tempo’ — my own speed of activity and movement with a rate and rhythm that I control. It means you are in tune, not out of tune. How do you find your personal tempo? Zen figured it out 4000 years ago with a simple quote: “Sit, walk or run but don’t wobble.”
Sitting is about taking the time to think. When did you last do that at work — not on the spot desperately trying to come up with an answer, but prioritising and scheduling time to think in your week? Rather than opening your laptop on Monday morning and drowning under the usual e-mail avalanche, decide on the most important thing you need to achieve and book an hour to work on it at your own pace — your personal tempo.
Walking is about choosing when to slow down in order to speed up. Slowing down to deliver a message or make an important point is more effective. Your personal tempo shouldn’t always be fast; you can vary your pace for greatest impact, choosing a personal tempo for the right speed and right course of action depending on the situation. As a leader, you set the speed and pace for your people. Slow down and take the frenetic pace out of things, and they will too.
Run, but with purpose, clarity and clear direction, with a definite start and finish. The key to running is consciously choosing when to do so, and most importantly not running all the time. When you run and use pace effectively, it has more impact.
Lastly and most importantly, don’t wobble. Don’t be indecisive. Don’t let the pace of change cause you to be uncertain, to get stuck in the question. Not making decisions — or doing nothing — is no longer an option in business today.
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